descript launched a new website. But we didn't stop there. Also, the copy is new. More thoughtful, more specific and (hopefully) more authentic. We carved out some time during the last turbulent year to reflect on our company-self. Who is descript? And if so, how many?
Our quest led to our new, and first explicitly verbalized descript brand. In our blog series we want to show how we tackled this quest. This part is about our new brand, the difficulties we had during the process and tell you why we rebooted three times.
What is a brand and what do we want to achieve?
If someone asked us in the past who we are and what we do, we were always able to answer - but it differed based on who you asked in our team and we always contradicted each other. When even the closest team members couldn't describe what descript is, we have a problem. A company without an identity is merely an empty shell no one wants to contract or work for.
But how do we define a brand? From our perspective it is multi-layered. It is the central identity of a company, the north star guiding every decision. A brand differentiates a company from another. It makes the products (immaterially) better than the ones by the competition. It is the reason why a customer buys a product or service. The instantiation of a brand is found in the marketing of the company.
So, we needed a brand to describe ourselves and to provide purpose to our employees and customers. We've done a good job so far. But now is the time for a re-brand, a new presence. A presence that is based on a good foundation and which is easy to understand by each employee.
We needed a central message, which we can give to customers and applicants. A central message that motivates employees to work in the same direction. A central message that determines our future direction.
Why it is helpful sometimes to go round in circles
How many people to you need to develop a brand? At least more than the general manager, the designer and the project manager. Because this is doomed to fail. Developing a brand is no side activity. That's why our first attempt failed miserably.
When we three got together in January no one knew what to expect. We wanted a new brand without knowing what it means. For me it was the foundation for our strategic marketing. For the other two it was mostly about the graphical aspects of our identity. Unconcerned, we started to analyse our internal and public image and had a look at our competition. But after two weeks we abandoned the project and got back to our daily tasks. The analysis was far from over, but no one cared - the rebranding was cancelled silently and without protest.
But as always with thoughts and ideas, the idea of a rebranding had to grow in our minds. It took us half a year and a first pandemic wave, which gave us lots of time to ponder, to decide to tackle this quest again. But this time we wanted to do it right and hired a part-time marketing specialist to do nothing else but to develop our brand.
And what could be better than someone who brings a fresh pair of eyes to the table to advance our rebranding? A lot. It is hard to understand us and our quirks as an external person. This can't be learned in a snap. But it was the kick-off to many discussions and documents. Thoughts were brainstormed and discarded. The result was a semi-consistent concept.
We were standing in front of a house where the first floor was the roof, and the second floor had the hardwood upside down. It was better than our first tries, where we tried to build the house on marshmallows. It was the right direction, but it didn't feel right.
So we did, what we do best when we have lots of ideas. We zoomed out of designing the interior of a single floor and started to look at the house as a whole. We couldn't be the first who have done this. So we went looking for pathways and guidelines, identified needed steps, sorted our previous results and filled the gaps.
After ten month and countless iterations we arrived at a result. Each cycle built on the last one. Each cycle helped us to understand ourselves better. Each cycle brought us closer to the finish line. It wasn't the ideal project process for sure, but branding is a process that never stops.
A process that has many hurdles
Of course, the road was bumpy; not only because we started three times. The meaning of the term brand is different for everyone. The definition changed in the last years oftentimes. For strategists it is the framework for decisions. For visualists it is the public image. And for some it is just the software company or the employer. Especially in small companies with limited resources the branding process is not top priority, though it is the glue for the whole culture. We always knew that we need an explicit brand, but it took some time until we knew what we meant.
When working on a brand you always come to the question on what to prioritize. Are we the software company with the cool team or are we the cool team, that can develop software? The priority of messages is valued differently by everyone. We thought about it many times, we discussed it often and iterated repeatedly to discover what composes our team.
And then you have all the different target groups. The customers who hire us need to perceive us as a trusted partner. Our employees want to be motivated by our brand. And our applicants should see us as an exciting place to work. To manage all these expectations led to some sleepless nights and demanded to compromise.
Our brand for the future: focus and simplicity
After all this banter it is now time to present you our brand:
descript is a team of smart people with the goal to focus on the important things of life. Our activities reduce friction for us and our customers. Our software takes care of routine tasks to simplify work and give back time for the import tasks.Learn more about our values on the page Values
Branding is a process. We're in the middle of it. We will always check our assumptions and edit them. We will never be satisfied, but this is okay. The described process was part of our self-discovery. decript is in a time of change. Many things currently change, and values are questioned. Our new brand is the first step to find out who we want to be in the future.
In the second part of our series, we will describe some steps we went through in more detail.
I'm looking forward to it,
The development of our brand couldn't be done without help. We thank Cedric Zander, who took our hand and helped us to lay out the fundament, and Franziska Kühnel, who helped us fine tune our messages with her critical feedback.